Wednesday, 29 April 2009 (Continued from here):
After our lovely birdy walk at Big Morongo Canyon, we continued heading towards Palm Springs, stopping in Desert Hot Springs to check out Yerxa Cabot’s Pueblo (see photos here). The tour was good, if a bit long-winded, but it’s definitely the sort of off-the-wall place that gives the desert a mostly-justified reputation for being inhabited by “colorful” characters.
From Desert Hot Springs, we continued into Palm Springs, checked into our hotel, and had a so-so Mexican dinner downtown before retiring early’ish.
Thursday, 30 April 2009:
We woke early and after a quick bite, drove a few miles to the trailhead for Tahquitz Canyon, one of three “Indian” canyons in/near Palm Springs located on the land of the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla tribe. This was the first hike I can recall that charges admission. Not a typical parking fee, as found in most State & National Parks, but a per-person fee actually hike the trail – $12.50 per adult. It’s hard to begrudge the tribe’s efforts to make a livelihood, however, and I certainly prefer this to yet more Casinos!
After quickly perusing the visitor’s center, we hit the trail at 7:50.
Taquitz Canyon Visitor’s Center
After passing through the visitor’s center & a gate to ensure we had paid the $25 for the two of us to hike this trail, the path wound lazily up towards the mouth of Tahquitz Canyon. We were very close to downtown Palm Springs, and behind us could see myriad palm trees sprouting up from every house. Or we could have seen them, but for the thick layer of morning smog hanging heavily over the Coachella Valley.
Unfortunately for its residents, a large amount of smog from Los Angeles blows up and over the nearby San Gorgonio Pass and into the Coachella Valley basin, where it stays.
Hazy Palm Springs
Up-canyon, however, the air was much cleaner. As we approached the canyon, its rock walls began to close in.
Tahquitz Canyon Trail
A sturdy little stone bridge crossed babbling Tahquitz Creek, and we were glad to see there was at least some water in the creek, as Tahquitz Falls, the endpoint of the trail, and really the whole reason for doing this hike, is seasonal. A pretty yellow-headed Verdin caught my eye in a nearby bush, but flew away before I could get a photo of it.
“Bridgelet” over Tahquitz Creek
We entered the canyon proper and climbed the gently-graded trail alongside the creek. Several little cascades tumbled down from the rocks, and the air was full of the sounds of moving water and occasional birdsong, a pleasant thing to hear in the desert!
We saw just a couple of people, it being both early and a weekday, but mostly had the canyon to ourselves. It was hard to imagine the canyon’s checkered past. An article in a local paper, as well as displays in the visitor’s center, explains that Tahquitz Canyon was overrun with hippes and the homeless in the last 1960s, and they trashed the place, spray-painting over rock pictographs and leaving litter everywhere, so the Cahuilla Tribe closed the canyon to the public, and spend the next several decades constantly patrolling and arresting trespassers. After a multi-year cleanup, they opened it to guided walks only in 2001, and to the general public in 2005.
Before long we came to the end of the (legal) trail and faced lovely Tahquitz Falls. The 1937 film Lost Horizon apparently had a scene filmed here, although I’ve not seen that particular oldie.
The falls, 60 feet tall, were lovely and refreshing, and we spent a little time enjoying them. Two women asked us to take their picture, which I happily did, and they returned the favor:
Sarah & I @ Tahquitz Falls
Hmmmm, weird color balance there – I swear our skin is not actually red 🙂 After taking in our fill of the falls, we headed back down-canyon on a trail on the other side of Tahquitz Creek.
Looking back towards Palm Springs
The Coachella Valley seemed a little less hazy, probably due to the angle of the sun, and it was an easy hike down the well-maintained path.
Tahquitz Canyon Trail
Little was blooming this late in the season, but we did see one firecracker-red plant, whose name I have not been able to find.
Chuparosa / Justicia californica
We passed a guided walk, and were grateful we had not signed up for one – although I’m sure they discuss some interesting facts about the region, the walk is over 2.5 hours, which at under 1mph, is a little slow even for our normally-unhurried hiking pace!
Ranger-led walking group
White-throated Swifts zoomed above us, close enough to actually get a decent look, and a couple of so-so photographs.
We soon exited the canyon proper and continued along Tahquitz Creek back toward the visitor’s center.
An Anna’s Hummingbird posed on a branch for a moment, and unlike the earlier Verdin, I managed to get a photo of it (I’d have preferred the Verdin, as I have lots of pretty good Anna’s Hummy photos!).
A deep hole worn in a nearby rock was testament to the long-term presence of the Cahuillas here.
We arrived back at the visitor’s center at 9:20 and spent a few minutes perusing the old photos of hippies and police, and numerous newspaper headlines about the canyon, then continued on our way.
Tahquitz Canyon was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours, and super-convenient to downtown Palm Springs – although on any future visits, we would concentrate on the other nearby Indian Canyons, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this walk to anyone in the area with a couple of hours to spare.
Distance: 1.96 miles
Hike time: 58 minutes
Stopped time: 30 minutes
Climbing: ~300 feet
Location: Taquitz Canyon Observation date: 4/30/09 Number of species: 11 Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos X Gambel's Quail - Callipepla gambelii X White-throated Swift - Aeronautes saxatalis X Anna's Hummingbird - Calypte anna X Costa's Hummingbird - Calypte costae X Common Raven - Corvus corax X Verdin - Auriparus flaviceps X Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottos X California Towhee - Pipilo crissalis X Black-throated Sparrow - Amphispiza bilineata X House Finch - Carpodacus mexicanus X This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)
- Part I – Getting there, settling in
- Part II – Twentynine Palms Oasis
- Part III – Oasis of Mara, Noah Purifoy, Key’s View, Cap Rock
- Part IV – Lost Horse Mine
- Part V – Cholla Cactus Garden, Geology Tour Road
- Part VI – Split Rock, Hidden Valley
- Part VII – Barker Dam, Ocotillo Patch
- Part VIII – Mastodon Peak, Cholla Cactus Garden revisited
- Part IX – Big Morongo Canyon, AKA Birding Paradise
- Part X – Tahquitz Canyon <– You are here!
- Part XI – Living Desert, LA, and home